Four white Colorado State University students who wore blackface will not be punished by the university, administrators say. Apparently, there’s nothing they can do because of the students’ First Amendment rights.
The students, who are all freshmen, posed in blackface for a social media post in their dorm. They crossed their arms over the chest, referencing the film Black Panther. The image’s caption reads, “Wakanda forevaa.”
Three administrators from Colorado State, including university President Joyce McConnell, said they did not approve of the students’ use of blackface. They sent a statement out to students and faculty on September 10th explaining their position.
“Because of the long and ugly history of blackface in America, this photo has caused a great deal of pain to members of our community,” the statement read.
“We have heard from many of you—and we hear you. Moreover, we respect your voices. We know that images like this one—whether consciously racist or not—can perpetuate deliberate racism and create a climate that feels deeply hostile,” it continues.
“We also affirm that personal social media accounts are not under our jurisdiction. Our community members—students, faculty and staff—can generally post whatever they wish to post on their personal online accounts in accordance with their First Amendment rights. This recent post runs counter to our principles of community, but it does not violate any CSU rule or regulation, and the First Amendment prohibits the university from taking any punitive action against those in the photo.”
Students at CSU were not happy with the official statement, accusing the University of not caring about students of color.
so y’all are just gonna let them get away with racism cause “freedom of speech”? CSU really loves reminding their students of color that they don’t care about them— ᴱᵛᴱᴸᴵᴺ (@Evelinacostaa) September 11, 2019
“CSU students post themselves in blackface, and the president of the university sends an email to students saying people can post whatever they want to post. Once again, CSU disappoints me,” wrote one user.
CSU students post themselves in blackface, and the president of the university sends and email to students saying people can post whatever they want to post. Once again, CSU disappoints me.— Shaylur™ (@Shaylur1) September 11, 2019
Racism at CSU in recent years:— Young Bot (@cdot2123) September 12, 2019
2016-Students hang a black women mannequin as a Halloween decor
2017- A noose was hung in front of a black students dorm
2018- Racial profiling of two prospective Native American students
2018- A Neo Nazi holds a conference on campus
CSU great job at protecting the privileged and racist. This is why this shit keeps happening cuz you aren’t doing anything to stop it https://t.co/aCe3ZUOqHC— kenia (@michhellle_) September 12, 2019
“CSU great job at protecting the privileged and racist. This is why this sh*t keeps happening cuz you aren’t doing anything to stop it,” another user commented.
CSU washed the chalk away and tore down any sign relating to the blackface issue but these damn religious people can come with 20 foot banners and tell me I’m going to hell for no reason. If you’re gonna protect free speech it’s gotta be for everyone— aeric? (@aericnoteric) September 13, 2019
Aside from tweeting their disappointment and outrage, students are also planning actions and organizing programs to address the problem of racism on their campus. On Wednesday, students wrote messages such as “white supremacy is terrorism” and “admin – stop protecting racists” in chalk across the plaza
The messages were washed away.
Haneen Badri, who is a senior, says students are presenting a resolution this Wednesday called “Protecting Students From Future Hate Speech.” The resolution is intended to “condemn the blackface act that happened on campus in our dorms because the university won’t condone it,” Badri says.
“CSU values diversity until we get here,” Badri added. “After we get here, they don’t do anything to show us that we’re valued.”